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Trial of John Taylor at Worcester Crown Court hears from friend of his wife
11:17am Wednesday 27th February 2013 in News
THE last villager to see a former teacher alive told a murder trial they had arranged to meet two days later.
Church warden Iris Lawson had comforted Alethea Taylor after the 63-year-old burst into tears at her home.
She left around 11pm with her husband but wound down the window of their car and said to Mrs Lawson: "See you on Friday at 12 o'clock," Worcester Crown Court heard.
Mrs Taylor, a retired teacher, was never seen again. John Taylor, a 61-year-old funeral director, of Mortimer Drive, Orleton, reported his wife missing a day later, on January 19, 2012. He denies murder.
The prosecution allege he killed her after embarking on a love affair with a widow in a nearby village.
Giving evidence, Mrs Lawson described how Mrs Taylor came to her home, Brookside Cottage in Yarpole, unexpectedly at 7.30pm on January 18 after leaving choir practice early.
She cried for up to 15 minutes and explained she was worried about her husband's workload and upset over the deaths of two friends.
Asked by Mrs Lawson if she had discussed her worries with her husband, Mrs Taylor allegedly replied: "I can't speak to John."
Mrs Lawson had booked a Burns Night supper on January 27 for herself and the Taylors. Mrs Taylor had confirmed she would attend.
Mrs Lawson said by the time she left her home, Mrs Taylor was perfectly normal. Taylor claimed to police that his wife had developed dementia.
The Rev Sian Harris dismissed the suggestion as "nonsense" and said she never aware of any mental problems.
The vicar got to know the couple while based in Leominster and said Mrs Taylor was "perfectly normal and healthy" except for one occasion.
On December 18 or 19, 2011, they met at a carol service in Little Hereford. Mrs Taylor appeared "sad and avoiding my gaze".
Rev Harris, now vicar of Burford, near Tenbury Wells, said she also met Alison Dearden - Taylor's lover - in April 2012.
They discussed Mrs Dearden's relationship with Taylor and the vicar advised her to leave the area to reflect on the affair.
In a statement read to the court, Rosamund Plested said Mrs Dearden admitted she was seeing Taylor and said he had been a huge comfort after her husband died.
"She was besotted with him," said Mrs Plested. She recalled Mrs Taylor became extremely depressed.
Carer Ann Boatright spoke to Mrs Taylor at a farmer's funeral on January 10, 2012. "She appeared very well," she said.
After Mrs Taylor vanished, Mrs Boatwright talked to Taylor on the phone. He allegedly told her he couldn't touch his wife's pension for seven years.
She was unable to recall the sum involved, but said it was so large that it shocked her.
She also described an incident at a party on New Year's Eve when Taylor went outside to get a signal on his mobile phone.
Mrs Taylor reacted by "panicking and screaming". Taylor explained that he thought she was suffering from dementia but was unable to get her to see a doctor.
Michael Dowding, former chairman of the Birchpole Singers, told the jury that on January 18, 2012, Mrs Taylor - a member of the choir - walked out of a practice session after another chorister took her usual seat.
As she passed him she said: "I can't stay, I can't do this." She then went to Mrs Lawson's home where she broke down.
The trial continues.